Call to turn ‘tem­po­rary’ car park in Air­lie Beach into pub­lic park­land

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

CALL TO TURN CAR PARK INTO PARK­LAND

WHIT­SUN­DAY Re­gional Coun­cil will con­tinue to de­rive rev­enue from the la­goon car park in Air­lie Beach de­spite calls to turn the area into pub­lic park­land.

At yes­ter­day’s or­di­nary Coun­cil meet­ing in Bowen, CEO Scott Waters said Coun­cil was “ex­tremely cog­nisant” of the im­por­tance of the area to the com­mu­nity and he praised the com­mu­nity group Save Our Fore­shore (SOF), for their ef­forts to re­tain this sig­nif­i­cant piece of land for pub­lic use.

“[How­ever] the car park de­liv­ers a steady stream of rev­enue, which helps off­set the main­te­nance of key in­fra­struc­ture such as the Air­lie La­goon,” he said. Mr Waters’ com­ments were made in re­sponse to a let­ter from SOF of­fer­ing prac­ti­cal sup­port for the carpark to be turned into a multi-use park, com­ple­ment­ing and com­plet­ing the unique green fore­shore of Air­lie Beach.

SOF pres­i­dent Suzette Pelt said the area had been a “tem­po­rary” carpark for the best part of 30 years, with two high pro­file “land grabs” within the last decade.

In 2004, Whit­sun­day res­i­dents fought against the FKP Outrig­ger pro­posal, col­lect­ing thou­sands of sig­na­tures on a pe­ti­tion and hold­ing a big protest march through Air­lie Beach.

The land was “saved” from de­vel­op­ment but in 2011 it again be­came the sub­ject of con­tro­versy.

Although changes in gov­ern­ment meant the pro­pos­als never went ahead, Ms Pelt said it was ob­vi­ous that for as long as it re­mained a tem­po­rary carpark, in­stead of be­ing land­scaped to re­flect its pub­lic recre­ation re­serve sta­tus, the area would con­tinue to be the sub­ject of ”op­por­tunis­tic com­mer­cial land grabs”.

She said SOF had re­ceived sev­eral of­fers from lo­cal busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als to pro­vide equip­ment, goods, ser­vices and labour, to as­sist with the con­ver­sion, now pos­si­ble thanks to the ad­di­tion of ex­tra park­ing spa­ces at the new Air­lie Beach Wool­worths store.

Mr Waters thanked the com­mu­nity for this of­fer but said there were no cur­rent plans to re­de­velop the area.

Ms Pelt said SOF was dis­ap­pointed with this re­sponse.

“We’re not en­tirely sat­is­fied that Coun­cil is jus­ti­fied in hold­ing back on turn­ing this into park­land so we’ll be look­ing at hav­ing fur­ther dis­cus­sions with them on all the op­tions avail­able,” she said.

PRO­TECT­ING PUB­LIC LAND: Save Our Fore­shore mem­bers Kerry McCourt, Suzette Pelt, Me­gan Wal­lis, Eric Oliver, Roz Jen­nings, Harry Ma­jor, Heather Mar­shall, San­dra Hardy, Natasha Jochim, Robina Mealey, Adrian O'Dea, An­drew Mar­shall, Adrian Pelt, Con­nie Ri­ley, Lester Ri­ley, Sue Dick­in­son, Rory McCourt, Faye Chap­man, Karen Crid­land, Steve Hal­ter, Peter Payne and Elmer Ten-Haken, say the time has come to re­turn the 'tem­po­rary' car park in Air­lie Beach to pub­lic park­land.

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